Walk off home run in extra innings. . . hadn't seen that one in a while.
Brendan Ryan is hitting for .263 wOBA. That's remarkably terrible for someone who has gotten 411 PAs. It's not quite on par with Pedro Feliz and his .239 wOBA on the season in 387 PAs but you get the point. Despite that Ryan has managed to have a remarkable defensive season according to both UZR and the +/- system which have him at 11 runs and 26(!) runs to the positive. Ryan, despite being just anemic at the plate, has been at worst something like a neutral player and more likely a small positive.
I continue to find it astounding how many awful offensive seasons we have on the Cardinals this season. Before we take a quick look at that though, I have to mention that somehow, as a team, this club has been near average offensively. They don't feel like an average club with the stick, especially not recently, but on the season, they've performed that way.
Nonetheless, the Cardinals can field a team on any given day with players that has 6 out of 9 spots including wOBAs at or below .300. The following players have received 100 PAs this season:
So we can man 3B, 2B, C, RF and SS to combine with the pitchers position to basically field an eviscerated offense. Alternately, we've got a few players that are playing remarkably well with Jay, Rasmus, Holliday and Pujols all posting wOBAs over .360.
These facts leave me in a confusing place. First of all, it's both difficult and important to remember that single season stats are not indicative of true talent level. Second, The offense is, intentionally or not, the lesser component of this team. The pitching is dominant and should have been sufficient to take the Cardinals along way. As the season has worn on, it's seemed like the Cardinals starters have been pitching with a greater sense of urgency. Like they understand that if they even allow one run, that may be the game.
Of course, that's the danger. Finding a narrative to fit the way the season feels rather than the way the season has actually gone. On a player level, it's easier to accept things as random and that player 'X' can bounce back next year. The same can be true for a team as well. Field this identical offense next year and you might have radically different results because the Cardinals, due to some awful random luck this season on an aggregate basis, have underacheived.
I'm hardly advocating for the club to do that but with the Cardinals focused on an Albert Pujols contract extension, Tony La Russa's status with the club and ensuring that whatever nonsense that come about with Rasmus during the season is put to rest, there may not be much in the way of free agent activity.
The concern then becomes, if the free agent market is sparse or inactive, can the farm system support the major league club. We've seen both Jay and Jaime Garcia experience some success this year. Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus was discussing the Cardinals on local radio this morning. He was asked if there was a player in Memphis that could, potentially, stick with the big club in 2011. The first name he said was Lance Lynn.
Lynn, of course, is now two days removed from a dominant performance in Memphis where he struck out 16 (a club record). He's had a somewhat tepid overall season pitching right around average for Memphis. This is a rather uninspiring line for someone who would seek to join the major league club next year.
I'd toss out two more names who could fill in somewhat significant roles. Brandon Dickson has been considerably better than Lynn in his 2010 performance. Neither is terribly impressive to scouts with lack luster fastballs and breaking pitches who need above average command to function. The other player would be Matt Carpenter who I've discussed in length elsewhere.
Now that I've let my thoughts meander across the screen for a while, I suppose what I've been circumstantially getting at is, personally, I've detached from the rest of the season. The club isn't playing well enough to get back into any kind of serious contention for a playoff spot. Instead I'm going to try and enjoy the little things. Albert Pujols hitting homeruns. Goofy secret handshakes in the dugout. Amazing plays by Brendan Ryan at shortstop. Fires burning in the outfield. Etc. Enjoy the little things. That's likely all we have left.